Virus cases in Israel rise to 8,430, deaths at 49, but experts cautiously upbeat
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Virus cases in Israel rise to 8,430, deaths at 49, but experts cautiously upbeat

Health Ministry says 139 are in serious condition, and 546 have recovered from COVID-19. Rate of new cases was doubling every 6 days, now it’s ‘only’ doubling every 11

Magen David Adom workers wearing protective clothing evacuate a suspected coronavirus patient outside the new coronavirus unit at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, April 3, 2020. (Nati Shohat/ Flash90)
Magen David Adom workers wearing protective clothing evacuate a suspected coronavirus patient outside the new coronavirus unit at Shaare Zedek hospital in Jerusalem, April 3, 2020. (Nati Shohat/ Flash90)

The number of confirmed coronavirus cases in Israel rose Sunday night to 8,430, up 412 from the morning’s tally and 579 in 24 hours. A top medical expert said the rise in the number of cases in recent days was encouraging: new cases had been doubling every six days until recently, he said, and now was doubling only every 11 days.

The Health Ministry said 139 people were in serious condition, 106 of whom were on ventilators. Another 182 people were in moderate condition and the rest had mild symptoms. It said 546 patients had recovered from the virus. Experts are also pointing to the relatively slow rise in the number on ventilators as a source of potential encouragement.

According to the ministry’s figures, 49 Israelis have died from COVID-19, one more than previously reported. It was not immediately clear who the latest victim was or where that person had been hospitalized.

Four more Israelis died Sunday: an 84-year-old woman from the Mishan nursing home in Beersheba, the sixth fatality from the assisted living facility, and a 63-year-old man, 61-year-old woman, 98-year-old woman, all said to have had underlying health issues.

The Mishan assisted living facility in Beersheba. (Screen grab/Channel 13 news)

With the death toll from residents at the Mishan assisted living facility continuing to rise, relatives of the residents plan to file a lawsuit against the facility’s managers and the Health Ministry for alleged medical malpractice.

“The Health Ministry as a regulator has not supervised and kept watch. They saved money instead of caring for the elderly,” a representative of residents’ families told the Kan public broadcaster Sunday morning.

In total, there have been at least 42 cases of the virus among residents and staff members.

On Saturday, 88-year-old Holocaust survivor Dr. Nelia Kravitz, 88, who worked as a physician at Soroka Medical Center for 20 years, became the fifth victim from the Mishan facility in Beersheba.

The Nofim Tower assisted living center in Jerusalem has also been hard hit by the virus outbreak, with four fatalities from the facility.

In figures released Sunday, the ministry said the highest number of cases across the country was recorded in Jerusalem (1,302), followed by the ultra-Orthodox city of Bnei Brak (1,214) and Tel Aviv-Jaffa (359). Bnei Brak, one-quarter the size of the capital by population, was closed off by police on Friday morning to stem the outbreak.

Magen David Adom and Shaarei Tzedek hospital medical workers in Jerusalem, wearing protective clothing, seen with an ultra-Orthodox man at the hospital’s new coronavirus unit on April 2, 2020. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)

Police on Friday imposed a closure on Bnei Brak to stem the outbreak there, and the government was reportedly set to announce movement restrictions in more areas, including several unspecified neighborhoods in Jerusalem, Elad, Migdal Haemek, Beitar Illit, Ashkelon, Tiberias, Or Yehuda and Modiin Illit.

Interior Minister Aryeh Deri said Sunday that the government was considering imposing a general lockdown over all of Israel ahead of the Passover holiday.

Health Ministry Director-General Moshe Bar Siman-Tov struck a cautiously optimistic note on Saturday, following reports that officials believe the current rate of infection in the country is rising at a relatively controlled rate and shows signs of remaining within levels that the health system can handle.

Prof. Gabi Barbash. (Weizmann Institute screenshot)

“The fact that we are holding discussions about an exit strategy from the crisis is a privilege,” he said.

Prof. Gabi Barbash, the former director general of the Health Ministry, similarly said the overall situation in Israel’s battle against the coronavirus “is much better” than it was. “We’ve gone down from a doubling of new cases every six days to a doubling every 11 days,” he explained Sunday on Channel 12.

That was “despite what’s been happening” in Bnei Brak and other hard-hit areas, he clarified, and was “thanks to the closures… I hope people will maintain” the stay-home discipline, he said.

The concern is to avoid another rise because of Passover, he added. If the numbers stay like this, “This gives the authorities a much better starting point,” he said, to consider easing some of the restrictions after Passover.

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